Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday the Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme was aimed at promoting self-reliance among the youth.
He said interest-free loans worth Rs5.5 billion had been distributed under the scheme and 350,000 families had benefited from the programme so far. He said Rs6 billion would be distributed over the next five years. He said the government hoped that nearly 2 million families would benefit from the facility.
The chief minister said the repayment of loans under the scheme was so far 100 per cent.
He said Rs300 billion loans had been had been written off elsewhere for political considerations.
He said corruption would have to be rooted out from the system for the survival, progress and prosperity of the country.
He said a country where influential people could get their loans written off but skilled people were forced to beg was not a welfare state.
He was addressing a ceremony for distribution of interest-free loans among women under the scheme. The ceremony was arranged by Akhuwat Organisation at Alhamra.
Minister for Industries Muhammad Shafiq, Minister for Women Development Hamida Wahidud Din and Punjab Educational Endowment Fund Vice Chairman Amjad Saqib were also present.
The chief minister said merit, transparency and efficient utilisation of national wealth was being ensured in the Punjab.
The chief minister said the Punjab Educational Endowment Fund was a revolutionary programme which had helped over 50,000 students study at prestigious educational institutions.
He said women formed half of Pakistan’s population and the goal of national progress and prosperity could only be achieved by bringing them into the national mainstream.
He said women would have to work shoulder-to-shoulder with men and play their role in all sectors of life.
Sharif said honesty and hard work was needed to change the course of history.
He said the government was trying to manage the energy crisis. He said China had extended help to Pakistan to overcome power shortage in the country. Sharif said that due to “criminal negligence” of former rulers, machinery of the Nandipur power project had remained at the Karachi port for three years.
He said now an additional amount of Rs27 billion would have to be spent on the project. He said generation of electricity from this project would start next month.
The chief minister lauded the efforts of Dr Amjad Saqib and his team for the self-employment scheme.
He said the minimum limit of the loans should be raised from Rs20,000 to Rs40,000.
Minister for Industries Muhammad Shafiq told the audience that the Chief Minister’s Self-Employment Scheme reflected the love of Shahbaz Sharif for the masses. He said such welfare schemes were launched by leaders who were kind-hearted.
Chief Executive of Akhuwat Amjad Saqib said giving out interest-free loans to women under the self-employment scheme was a historic decision. He said the system was a ‘silent revolution’ which would yield its results within the next few years.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2014.